Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight strikers Ciryl Gane and Alexander Volkov will clash TONIGHT (Sat., June 26, 2021) at UFC Vegas 30 inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
It’s taken less than a full two years on UFC’s roster for Gane to rise up through the ranks and break into the title mix. Heck, the French athlete made his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) debut in Aug. 2018! He’s a relative newborn in a division of old men, a standout talent who is surely going to be a problem for years to come. Volkov took the much more scenic route to building his way to the top. The former Bellator and M-1 champion has been at this for a very long time, but he’s just now reaching his prime at 32 years of age. “Drago” is more dangerous than ever, and perhaps now is the moment all that experience adds up to a title run.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Jairzino Rozenstruik (UFC Vegas 20), Junior dos Santos (UFC 256), Tanner Boser (UFC Fight Night 165), Raphael Pessoa (UFC Fight Night 156), Don’Tale Mayes (UFC Fight Night 162)
Key Losses: None
Keys To Victory: Gane is about as slick as they come. The former professional Muay Thai fighter manages range exceptionally well, punishing his opponents with hard kicks that are well set up by his punches and feints.
When Gane does close distance with a big swing or elbow, he lands heavy.
In this match up, speed is Gane’s great advantage. Each man may be relatively unaccustomed to fighting opponents with a similar height and reach, but that doesn’t mean Gane cannot still play the range game. His jab and low kick will still be quite effective, because he’s simply faster than “Drago.”
If Gane can control the long range exchanges, he can control the fight. Provided Gane is making the most of his speed to land early, his feints will be far more effective. As a result, he’ll have more room to maneuver inside the small Octagon, and he should fair much better in setting traps for Volkov.
Key Wins: Alistair Overeem (UFC Vegas 18), Fabricio Werdum (UFC 229), Walt Harris (UFC 254), Stefan Struve (UFC Fight Night 115), Blagoy Ivanov (Bellator 120)
Keys Losses: Curtis Blaydes (UFC on ESPN 11), Derrick Lewis (UFC 229), Vitaly Minakov (Bellator 108), Cheick Kongo (Bellator 139)
Keys to Victory: Volkov is all about volume. The Russian kickboxer breaks opponents down with his long, snapping front kicks, but he’s come a long way with his boxing skills, putting more power behind his shots and throwing them in better combinations.
It’s time for someone to really take the fight to Ciryl Gane. Sure, that’s easier said than done, but ... has anyone really tried? Most fighters take a few kicks and then decide to largely hang back, which plays right into the Frenchman’s game.
While Volkov does have the powerful kicks and range to compete with Gane at distance, those kicks should be used to crash forward into punches. Gane is competent with his hands, but he avoids prolonged exchanges for a reason — he’s less comfortable there! In the small Octagon, Volkov’s priority should be putting together enough punches that Gane’s back hits the fence.
From there, Volkov might just be able to tee off. If not, forcing Gane to really move his feet to maintain distance will help tax his foe’s gas tank.
Is this a Heavyweight title eliminator?
The answer depends largely on how negotiations between Jon Jones and UFC shake out. At the moment, they seem rather stalled out, so the odds are pretty good that whoever’s victorious tonight will indeed see the winner of Francis Ngannou vs. Derrick Lewis. Fortunately, either man would be rather deserving of such an opportunity, as both have built quality win streaks.
Defeat looks a bit different for each athlete. For Gane, he loses his undefeated status. While that does affect his marketability a bit — UFC loves the prospect of an undefeated champ — he’s still young in his career that it hardly matters in the big picture. For Volkov, the stakes are higher. He’s been competing for a long time and should be in his prime at this very moment, so losing out on his current win streak and momentum hurts.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 30 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+ at 4 p.m. ET.
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At UFC Vegas 30, Ciryl Gane and Alexander Volkov will go to war in the main event. Which man will walk away with his hand raised?